07/03/2013 08:03 EDT | Updated 09/02/2013 05:12 EDT

Rogers launches new loyalty program in a bid to retain customers

TORONTO - Telecommunications giant Rogers will begin rolling out a new loyalty program on Monday in a bid to keep customers from switching to rival carriers.

"Something that most major carriers worldwide do not do well at is recognizing and rewarding customers for tenure," said executive vice-president and chief marketing officer John Boynton.

Wireless carriers also get criticized for treating new customers better than existing ones, said Boynton.

"Those are two specific things we want to address with customers with the new loyalty program," he said.

Wireless, cable, internet and home phone clients will be able to earn points that can be redeemed for rewards such as U.S. roaming packages, premium TV content and upgraded internet packages.

Roger Communications (TSX:RCI.B) will launch the national rewards program in stages, starting in Red Deer, Alta., on Monday. It's expected to be fully rolled out by the end of this year.

"We hope to get some early-learning feedback from customers before we have the rest of the country rolled out," said Boynton.

"It will allow us to figure out what to put in the next two, three releases."

Customer service has been a longtime concern for Rogers. Its wireless operations have been under particular pressure in recent quarters as Bell (TSX:BCE) and Telus (TSX:T) have grabbed a larger share of postpaid phone subscribers.

During the company's annual meeting in April, outgoing chief executive Nadir Mohamed said the company needs to improve its customer service "significantly," for instance by resolving the top reasons for customer calls.

Mohamed's calls for improved customer service echoed comments he made when he took over the top job from company founder Ted Rogers in 2009.

Boynton said the loyalty program has been three years in the making.

"We had our feet out in the street worldwide for a loyalty program in early 2011," he said.

"Since then we've been busy selecting and installing it into our systems and doing lots of customer research."